Meta analysis: Classics people don’t play

By Spencer . February 20, 2007 . 2:31pm

No gamer plays every title on the market and even game journalists overlook the old school. What about the general public? How many gamers missed out on the Legend of Zelda even though it’s been released on the NES, Game Boy Advance, Gamecube (via The Legend of Zelda: Collector’s Edition disc) and most recently, the Wii? GameFAQs had a couple of polls up where they asked if their readers played some of the first entries in long running franchises like Super Mario Brothers. The results are a little surprising…


Despite Zelda’s immense popularity and brand recognition nearly 25% of GameFAQs readers never tried out the first game. The original Sonic game for the Genesis is arguably more ubiquitous than Zelda 1 since only 12% of GameFAQs readers missed out on the title. Final Fantasy has an even larger gap, over 40% never played the first game despite Square-Enix’s multiple re-releases. Possible reasons for this are Europe missing out on the Final Fantasy franchise until Sony brought it over and its cult status until Final Fantasy VII made it mainstream. According to their survey, Super Mario Brothers has the highest play rate. Only 6.5% of gamers missed out of it and more than half of the gamers who missed playing the original want to try it out. In no way is this a scientifically accurate study, but since tens of thousands of GameFAQs readers responded the data has some relevance. What do you think of the results?

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  • it’s hard to say anything about the sonic numbers. i played the first sonic game on the genesis, a 16-bit system, in 1991. but how is that comparable to the original 8-bit mario (1985), zelda (1986) or final fantasy (1987).

    as for final fantasy, i love the series, and while i loved the first one the first time i played it oh so many years ago, i have absolutely no desire to play the nes original ever again. it was seminal, but that doesn’t mean it held up very well against time. even the remakes can’t hide the fact that the story and battle system and other things about it are completely basic and would mostly only appeal to those who did play the original.

  • after being shocked, i got to thinking about younger gamers who were not even alive when the originals were popular, and now i’m thinking about how weird it must be to start playing video games and have such a robust history predating what you are playing now.

  • John H.

    1. GameFAQs is hardly a representative sample.

    2. The original Zelda is an awesome game, but its huge difficulty may drive people off. It’s still the hardest Zelda game (excepting Zelda 2) by far; until players get used to it and learn where the fairy springs are, they’ll die all the time.

    It’s still much better than Final Fantasy 1, I should add, which doesn’t hold up now at all.

  • Veilknight

    I highly doubt that GameFAQs poll is truly accurate, but I believe Andy and John bring up a really good point. For most younger gamers who didn’t grow up playing 8-bit games, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them were turned off by the aging graphics of Zelda 1 and even the game’s difficulty. They probably would prefer to play one of the recent installments in the series, if only because the graphics are more visually stunning on their eyes and the lack of having to struggle through the game to truly succeed.

    I could imagine that the most people who are purchasing all the numerous ports of these classics are either hardcore gamers or those who have played it in the past and no longer hold in their hands the original cart when the game was first released. They would be the ones looking for a nostalgic play through of one of their childhood favorites as a kid.

  • LittoKim

    I can understand the results. A lot of the gamers now and days are pretty young, I doubt there is much appeal with a 8-bit character. Also the story lines are a bit rough around the edges and difficult to play or maneuver through. I can see my nephew definitely throwing the controller on the ground from frustration, much like I did as a kid.

    But I say give it some more time, I think the appreciation for these games will come pretty soon. Reason being? With the Wii, I see people that grew up with Mario, Link, and Sonic get excited. I believe that excitement will transfer over some curiosity for them to maybe give it a go.

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